Disney Magic Band 101: Everything You Need To Know

Posted in Disney World
on July 19, 2020

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yellow magic band

Magic Bands might be my favorite thing about a Disney World vacation. They make everything SO MUCH EASIER and they are just a lot of fun!

If you are wondering what a Disney Magic Band is or want more details on how Magic Bands work, you’ve come to the right place.

What Is Disney Magic Band?

disney magic bands

Magic Bands (aka MagicBands or Disney Bands) are adjustable, waterproof wristbands that have a small radio frequency (RF) chip inside.

RF is a common technology found in everything from video game controllers to keyless car entry.

When you are at Disney World, you can use your Magic Band to:

  • Unlock your resort hotel room
  • Enter theme parks (as long as you’ve purchased a ticket, of course)
  • Access your FastPass+ reservations
  • Charge purchases and dining back to your resort hotel
  • Redeem Disney Dining Plan credits
  • Use Disney’s Magical Express for airport transfers
  • Add Disney PhotoPass pictures to your account

You tap the Mickey symbol on your Magic Band to a receiver on your room door, at the turnstiles, at checkout registers, etc. to use your band.

How Do I Get A Disney Magic Band?

You can get a Magic Band one of two ways:

  • Making a reservation at a Disney World Resort hotel (through the end of 2020) or
  • Buying one on the ShopDisney website or other places (though I’d recommend getting them from shopDisney)

Read on to learn more about both of these options…

Are Disney World Magic Bands Free?

box of colorful magic bands

Yes and no! Magic Bands are provided to every guest staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel at no additional charge through the end of 2020.

Starting in 2021, guests will have to purchase a Magic Band if they want to use one during their stay. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Only hotels owned and operated by Disney World offer free Magic Bands. These hotels have the term “Disney’s” in front of their name (e.g. Disney’s Pop Century Resort). 

So if you are staying at a hotel on Disney property that is not owned by Disney (such as the Swan or Dolphin, Disney Springs hotels, etc.) then you won’t receive a free band unfortunately.

If you aren’t staying at a Disney hotel you can still use a Magic Band, though what you can do with it will be limited (more on this below).

What Are The Free Disney Magic Bands Colors? 

magic band disney colors choices from app

If you have a reservation at a Disney World resort hotel, you will get to pick from eight different band colors.

The eight Disney Magic Bands colors are:

  • Grey
  • Purple
  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Pink

These will be your options if you are sticking with a free band from Disney.

Disney recently announced that it would let Disney resort guests upgrade to a custom Magic Band by paying the difference (which is usually around $10).

So if you are checking in for a stay soon you may have more options!

How Much Do Disney Magic Bands Cost?

magic bands disney examples of custom bands from shopDisney

Here’s an explanation of how much Disney Magic Bands cost.

The basic Disney Magic Band cost is $14.99 from shopDisney. Magic Bands that feature Disney characters or icons generally cost $24.99. Limited edition bands can cost upwards of $50. 

You can buy bands at other locations such as Amazon, but for ease of use and to make sure they will work for you, I suggest buying them from Disney directly

After you purchase a Magic Band you can link it to your My Disney Experience account.

You can then use your MagicBand to enter the theme parks and check-in for FastPass+ reservations.

And of course if you have a reservation at a Disney World Resort hotel then a basic Disney Magic Band cost will be free!

Those staying at an off-site hotel or who want a special band can buy a MagicBand online at ShopDisney (aka the Disney Store).

How Do MagicBands Work with My Disney Experience?

magic band disney screenshot from my disney experience of plans

My Disney Experience is both a mobile app and website that allows you to access your vacation plans and share plans with others.

After you create a My Disney Experience account, you’ll be able to see your resort reservations, dining plans, FastPass+ reservations, and park tickets.

I find My Disney Experience pretty easy to use and access, particularly with the mobile app.

MagicBands are essentially a link to your My Disney Experience account.

That is why they allow you to use the FastPass+ reservations and park tickets that are in your account.

If you have multiple MagicBands (because you are splitting your stay between two resorts, for example) they can be used interchangeably because they both link to your same My Disney Experience account.

How Can I Customize Our Magic Bands?

choose your magic bands disney in my disney experienceWhen you make a resort reservation directly with Disney, your reservation will automatically appear in your My Disney Experience account.

If you book with a third party (such as using Orbitz to take advantage of the great discounts) or travel agent (I recommend Siera with Destinations in Florida) you will be able to add your reservation to your account with the confirmation number you receive at booking.

Then you will be able to customize MagicBands for each member of your party on the My Disney Experience website.

Just navigate to “MagicBands and Cards” and select a color and name to appear on each band.

pink magic band disney with vinyl decal

Another very affordable way to get a custom look is to order a Magic Band decal on Etsy!

The vinyl decal is easy to apply to your band and they are only a few dollars each. We received lots of compliments on our last trip.

DIY custom disney magic bands

Or if you are into DIY, you can get some tattoos and nail gems for a few dollars and decorate away! Get more detailed instructions on this Magic Band DIY approach here.

Also, you don’t have to be limited to just wearing a band on your wrist! Thanks to the removable puck in the Magic Band 2, you have lots of options. 

My favorite option is this MagicBand puck holder that slides onto your watch wristband!

You can use it with an Apple watch (or any watch) and it can help you keep track of your FastPass return times while not having to have two bands on your wrist. Get yours from Etsy for $9.97 here. 

Get all of my Magicband tips and tricks in this post.

Magic Bands Disney: How Do I Get My Bands?

If you are staying at a Disney resort, your Magic Bands will be mailed to your home 3-4 weeks before your check-in date.

If you don’t live in the US, your MagicBands will be waiting for you at your hotel when you arrive.

They will arrive in an unmarked box from the USPS. So if you are trying to keep your trip a secret, don’t worry – the box will not give it away!

You’ll get a shipping notification in My Disney Experience along with a tracking number so you can make sure your package arrives safely. 

How Does Charging Purchases to a MagicBand Work?

lobby check-in

When you check-in for your stay, either online or in-person at your resort, you will be able to put a credit card on file to cover purchases charged back to your room.

Since your MagicBand acts as your room key and a link to your resort reservation, you can use it to charge purchases back to your room account.

The fact that you can use your Magic Band to buy things makes some folks worried.

First of all, you set up a four-digit PIN number when you check-in online or at your resort.

You then have to enter the PIN when you make a purchase with the band. This keeps them safe in the event you lose your band.

Your credit card on file will not be charged for all purchases made during your stay until midnight the night before you check out.

If you want to pay any of your room charges with a gift card, you must do so before then.

I’m not going to lie – it is VERY hard to keep your spending in check at Disney World in general. MagicBands make that even harder!

As long as you are prepared for that and have some kind of budget in place, I think the ease of paying for food and more with your Magic Bands makes vacation simpler and more enjoying.

Are Magic Bands Reusable?

You might be wondering can you reuse magic bands… well I am happy to report that I reuse mine all of the time!

Yes, Magic Bands are reusable. Magic Bands run off of a small battery inside the band. Disney says the batteries are designed to last for 2 years. I have read of Magic Band batteries lasting for up to four years.

Since a Disney Magic Band is just a link to your My Disney Experience account, they can be used for trip after trip until the battery no longer works.

Are Disney Magic Bands Waterproof?

Many people have asked me “Are Disney Magic Bands waterproof?”

I am happy to report that yes, your Magic Bands are waterproof! You can wear them while you swim in the pool and on water attractions without damaging them in any way.

What Else Do I Need to Know About Magic Bands?

If you are arriving in Orlando by air and taking Disney’s Magical Express to your resort hotel, be sure to pack your MagicBand in your carry-on luggage.

Every member of your party will scan their bands in order to get on the bus. If you forget and pack your bands in your checked bags, just provide the cast members with your resort confirmation number and you’ll be fine.

little girl meeting the little mermaid

It is easy to link PhotoPass pictures taken in the parks (such as at character Meet & Greets) to your My Disney Experience account with your MagicBand.

The photographer just scans your band after taking your picture and it shows up in your account a short while later.

Frozen Ever After Ride Photo

Ride photos will also “magically” appear in your account soon after riding. This picture of my daughter screaming in terror on the TOTALLY MILD Frozen Ever After ride makes me laugh so hard I cry.

What is Magic Band 2?

magic bands disney with mixed up colors in MagicBand 2.0

Disney recently revamped the design of the MagicBand for the first time since they rolled out in 2014.

The major change was a small removable “puck” in the center of the band. You can remove the puck by unscrewing two tiny screws in the back of the band – you’ll need a special mini screwdriver to do this.

I took advantage of the new feature of the Magic Band 2.0 to mix up our wristband colors for our next trip. I think they look really fun!

Magic Band Keychains

The puck can be placed in special “MagicKeepers” such as lanyard clips or keychain fobs. Or if you have an Apple Watch, check out how to turn your Apple watch into a MagicBand!

Disney apparently added this feature for guests who don’t like to wear things on their wrists. I like the flexibility it adds to the device. Right now there are only a few MagicKeepers available online at the Disney Store, though I expect more are likely available in the parks.

Other than the removable puck, nothing has changed with Magic Band 2.0. They work exactly the same as the old MagicBands, and they actually weigh slightly less!

Disney Magic Band Summary

Magic Bands are also sometimes referred to as:

  • Disney bands
  • Disney wristbands
  • Magic Bands Disney
  • Disney arm bands
  • Disney Fast Pass bands

Since I travel with a little one in tow, I usually don’t have an extra hand for digging around in a purse or pocket for my room key or credit card. I LOVE having everything I need on my wrist.

Often when we leave our hotel room the only thing I have to remember is our Magic Bands. If I am just heading to the food court or to the pool for the afternoon, I don’t take anything else with me.

If I’m heading to the parks and taking a bag anyway, I will bring my ID and a backup credit card, just in case I get carded or something’s not working with my band (though this hasn’t ever happened to me).

I hope this post answered the popular “What is Disney Magic Band?” question. 

Did I miss something? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion over in my FREE private Facebook group for my Disney site, The Budget Mouse!

Everything you need to know about MagicBands at Walt Disney World! A peek at the new Magic Band 2.0 and more... #disneyworld #disneyplanning

Disney Magic Band 101: Everything You Need To Know

105 Comments

  • Stacey R.

    Can you use the Magic Band as identification? Say if a child gets lost, seeing that they are wearing a MagicBand, can someone take that child to a Customer Service area and “scan” their wrist to find out who they are? Our daughter has Down syndrome, her speech can be hard to understand for others.

    June 15, 2019 at 2:17 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Stacey – yes, cast members can scan the ban and get basic info. I would suggest using a silver sharpie or paint pen to write your cell phone number inside the strap. Then she could show that to a cast member and they could call and locate you quickly if need be. Hope that helps!

      June 16, 2019 at 9:45 am Reply
  • Erin

    So I’m staying at a Disney Resort, but they’re out of the fancier bands at the moment. If I were to buy one through Shop Disney, would it still be able to unlock my hotel room and everything after I link it to my account?

    May 31, 2019 at 6:12 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Yes, if you link it to your My Disney Experience account it will work just like the regular bands from Disney. 🙂

      June 2, 2019 at 11:58 am Reply
  • Chelsea Williams

    I’m REALLY considering renting some DVC points to stay at the Animal kingdom resort, will I still get magic bands or will I have to buy them since the membership is the owners?

    January 7, 2019 at 7:59 pm Reply
    • Leah

      You will get them for free! The reservation is made in your name so you will get all of the Disney perks yourself!

      January 8, 2019 at 10:25 am Reply
  • Holly

    I love your mixed up bands! Have you tried to use the magic band magic keepers (found some on a website tonight) was wondering how hard they are to assemble.

    October 28, 2018 at 12:19 am Reply
    • Leah

      Thanks, Holly! I haven’t used a Magic Keeper yet but I assume they work much the same way as the bands where you unscrew the back and place the puck in.

      October 28, 2018 at 9:06 am Reply
  • Erin

    I know I’m a little slow to the party but I just wanted to say I love love love your mixed up pucks & bands idea!!! Totally fun. And that picture of your daughter on Frozen has me laughing too. 😄 Aren’t toddlers the best?? Thank you for this post!

    July 18, 2018 at 9:32 pm Reply
  • Jennifer

    Thanks for the great article! We are going to share an on property 2 room villa with another family so charging things back to the room might get a little confusing. Are the charges itemized on the bill based on which magic band was used so we can sort things out and settle up the day before we leave?

    June 1, 2018 at 10:22 am Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Jennifer! Yes – you should actually be able to link your own card to your magic bands. Just ask at the front desk! If that falls through then yes, you can get an itemized folio at any point at the front desk. It does show whose band the charges came from.

      June 1, 2018 at 1:24 pm Reply
  • Elia

    Hi Leah! Thanks for all the info. I live in Mexico so I won’t be getting my magic bands until I get there and also, I book my trips with a travel agency over here and a representative from the agency gives us our tickets when we get to Orlando. So I won’t be able to link the tickets to the band until I get there. My question is, though, if I’m staying at a dw resort, and the agency will probably give me a confirmation number for that, can I link it to My Disney Experience to take advantage of the priority fastpass window (even if I didn’t link the tickets yet)?

    May 31, 2018 at 10:03 am Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Elia! In my experience you are only able to make FP reservations after you have a ticket linked… maybe you could check with your travel agent about getting your ticket numbers via email before your trip? Hope that helps!

      May 31, 2018 at 9:14 pm Reply
  • Nichole

    Hi Leah! Love these tips on using MagicBands.. I think when we went last in 2013 they were in the experiment phase because we didn’t have them for our trip. Bummer! I can’t wait to use them when we go back in 2019 so I’m trying to learn as much as I can before then. I am wondering though.. if we receive (or buy) MagicBands for our 2019 trip can we use them on subsequent trips or must we receive new bands each time? I’m seeing keepsake MagicBand crafts on Pinterest which is leading me to believe they send new ones each time.. Since we’re trying to do an extended family vacay (read: lots of ppl = $$$$) this may be another selling point as to why staying on property would be more cost effective than staying in a house or cheaper hotel!! Any help is appreciated! Again, thanks so much for the tips!

    April 19, 2018 at 7:14 pm Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Nicole! You CAN use MagicBands on subsequent trips since they are linked to your My Disney Experience account! If you are going with a large group and decide to stay off property, here is a tip: you can make a one night reservation in a campsite at Fort Wilderness (that you never intend to use) and you will receive free MagicBands for every member of your party which can be up to ten people in one campsite. Campsites start at $55/night so if you have a group of five or more you will definitely save money going this route. PLUS you’ll get access to Extra Magic Hours for the two days you are “staying” at the campsite which is another awesome perk. If you have questions feel free to send me a message on my Facebook page: https://facebook.com/thefrugalsouth

      April 20, 2018 at 5:45 am Reply
  • Vanessa Hicks

    I’m going with my fiancé and our three kids in June! We plan on sleeping 5 people in a standard Disney room that says “sleeps 4 adults” since our littlest will only be 4. Will we be able to get 5 bands and link them all to my room or do we have to get the family suite (and spend hundreds more) just to add a band?

    March 16, 2018 at 10:04 pm Reply
    • Leah

      This is a great question, Vanessa. Disney won’t allow you to add a fifth person to a room that only sleeps four (unless it’s a child under three who will sleep in a pack and play and doesn’t need a park ticket anyway). So unless you go with a room that sleeps five she won’t be able to be on your reservation. There are plenty of rooms at Disney World that actually do sleep five and that aren’t a suite… where are you staying?

      You could opt to leave your four-year-old off the reservation. But if you are flying then you would not be able to use Magical Express. And if you are using a Dining Plan she would not be on it. If you wanted her to have a band you could buy one from Disney and link her park ticket to it in My Disney Experience: https://www.thefrugalsouth.com/disney-magicbands-101-plus-a-peek-at-the-new-magicband-2-0s/ So that’s an option! Let me know if you have any other questions!

      March 17, 2018 at 8:21 am Reply
  • Cynthia

    Quick question. I got my bands in for my upcoming trip. Do I have to link them or are they already linked to my Disney resort and such?

    March 11, 2018 at 10:17 am Reply
    • Leah

      If you got them from Disney then they are already linked! When you check-in online (which I recommend doing) you can set a PIN number for each band if you want to be able to charge back to your room with them – which I also recommend!

      March 11, 2018 at 8:11 pm Reply
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